Law Schools

This ship be sinking.

* How many one percenters do you think are members of the 11%? According to this poll, Congressional approval ratings have hit an all-time low. Looks like it’s time to occupy Congress. [CNN]

* Wikipedia is planning a site-wide blackout this Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act. At least they’re giving some advance notice. If you’ve got papers to write, hurry up and finish. [Businessweek]

* Racial profiling ain’t easy. Sheriff Joe Arpaio still wants to detain people based on the suspicion that they might be here illegally, so he’s appealing Judge Snow’s ruling. [Washington Post]

* The part you won’t see in the inevitable movie starring Robert Pattinson: victims of Italy’s Titanic reenactment will probably be unable to sue for damages in U.S. courts. [Reuters]

* Here’s the umpteenth rehashing of the “are law schools cooking their employment statistics?” argument. Better question: without minimum standards for employment, does it matter? [NPR]

* Jesse Dimmick — the kidnapper who sued his victims for breach of contract — won’t get his day in court. The “most ridiculous lawsuit of 2011″ has been dismissed. [Topeka Capital-Journal]

Robert Ringley

Law school, copious amounts of alcohol, and unrequited love are the ingredients necessary for a very dangerous cocktail, the effects of which can lead to much more than just a bad hangover.

Just ask Robert Christopher Ringley, a man whom we believe to be a second-year student at the Ave Maria School of Law.

Early Friday morning, Robert Ringley was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly threatening to kill and shooting at two of his Ave Maria Law classmates.

What caused Ringley’s alleged of acts violence, and what’s love got to do with it? Let’s take a closer look at some of the allegations….

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Rick Perry is so sad.

* Rick Perry’s primary ballot election law suit in Virginia was unsuccessful, but maybe the Fourth Circuit will help him out on appeal. Or not. At least Huntsman’s out of the race, right? [Bloomberg]

* That didn’t take too long. The National Federation of Independent Business has officially popped the cherry on filing lawsuits challenging Obama’s recess appointments. [Businessweek]

* Even if law schools changed their teaching methods to include more experiential learning opportunities, would anyone care? To that, the latest hiring patterns say: “LOL, srsly?” [National Law Journal]

* Joran van der Sloot has been sentenced to 28 years for the murder of Stephany Flores. Parents will now be able to allow their college-aged kids to spend spring break in Aruba until 2038. [CNN]

* Protip for child predators: claiming that you don’t remember pleading guilty will bring you as much success as your career in children’s balloon entertainment and law — not a lot. [Orlando Sentinel]

* The lawyers at this small firm might quality for senior citizen discount specials, but they’re working hard to put their 161 years of experience to good use. P.S. they’re hiring! [New York Times]

When I saw the abysmal bar passage rate posted by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on the July 2011 administration of the California bar exam, I opined that TJSL should lose its American Bar Association accreditation. Of course, that won’t happen. The ABA standards on accreditation are so lax that law schools can lie to the ABA and still not get kicked out.

Much to the ABA’s embarrassment, TJSL released some papers to reassure students that even with a 33% first time bar passage rate (and an incomprehensible 13% pass rate for returning test takers), Thomas Jefferson Law was still well within ABA parameters. TJSL sent out an email that reiterated ABA Standard 301, which sets forth bar passage requirements for accredited schools:

Standard 301

Standard 301 (A): A law school’s bar passage rate shall be sufficient, for purposes of Standard 301(a), if the school demonstrates that it meets any one of the following tests:

(1) That for students who graduated from the law school within the five most recently completed calendar years:

(a) 75 percent or more of these graduates who sat for the bar passed a bar examination, or

(b) in at least three of these calendar years, 75 percent of the students graduating in those years and sitting for the bar have passed a bar examination.

2) That in three or more of the five most recently completed calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in the jurisdictions reported by the school is no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in these same jurisdictions.

TJSL representatives say that they are in compliance with the two out of the three possible methods of compliance. They even produce a graph that shows how the class of 2011 was an outlier result — not that this graph is really something TJSL administrators should be proud of.

The solution? Blame Bar/Bri, and the students themselves….

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It's time we all entertained my American Dream.

Businessmen never rob banks
you can sell s*** and get thanks
that’s what I learned from the Yanks
— The Engineer; Miss Saigon.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, 80% of law students would make the same mistake twice. Sorry, that’s not fair: 80% of law students can’t admit to themselves that they made a mistake in the first place. Whatever, that’s probably not fair either. But a new report says that 80% of law students would attend law school again if they could start over. I’m just having a hard time dealing with what those numbers mean.

Because those numbers mean that running a law school is truly the best and easiest job in the world. If 80% of your customers would purchase your services again, and there’s seemingly a never-ending flow of potential law students eager to apply for your services, then you have nearly no incentive to improve what you are selling. You wonder why law schools can charge whatever they want despite the poor job market? It probably has something to do with 80% of law students feeling like they’d do it again….

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Natalee Holloway

* What’s funnier here? The fact that Stephen Colbert is running for “president of the United States of South Carolina,” or the fact that he’s already beating Jon Huntsman in the polls? [Washington Post]

* Notorious New Jersey defense attorney Paul Bergrin’s second racketeering trial has been postponed and may be delayed indefinitely, but he’s such a pimp that he doesn’t even care. [The Record]

* According to a new study, 80 percent of law students surveyed said they would attend law school again if they could start over. Hey, any way to escape a dead-end job market. [National Law Journal]

* Unfortunately, not everyone impaneled for jury duty gets to have the Pauly Shore experience. Some people just get fired — even law firm receptionists. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The day after Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty to another girl’s murder, a judge declared Natalee Holloway was legally dead. Sometimes coincidence has great timing. [New York Daily News]

* Can you put a “White Only” sign outside of your apartment complex’s public pool? Nope, still illegal. That’s an antique that you might want to consider leaving up in the attic. [ABC News]

* Got fired because you love prostitutes and strippers? Don’t sue over your “hurt feelings,” because apparently all of the bros in the oil and gas industry love them, too. [The Snitch / SF Weekly]

At the start of this new year, what is the outlook like for legal employment? There’s certainly a fair amount of bad news out there, particularly for recent law school graduates.

But what about for denizens of Biglaw, the lawyers fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to work at the nation’s largest law firms? What does 2012 hold for them?

Earlier this month, my colleague Elie made some predictions for the legal profession. I will follow in his footsteps and venture some prophecies of my own for the year….

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Gerald Ung (left) and Edward DiDonato Jr. (right)

This shouldn’t come as a shock; we predicted it last February, when the criminal case ended in acquittal. But Eddie DiDonato Jr., a former lacrosse star at Villanova and the son of a prominent partner at the Fox Rothschild law firm, has filed a civil lawsuit against Gerald Ung, the Temple Law School student who shot DiDonato in January 2010 in the Old City section of Philadelphia.

Gerald Ung isn’t the only defendant. DiDonato is suing a half dozen other parties, relying on various theories of liability. Let’s think of this as a Torts final exam: Who else might DiDonato be suing besides Ung? What causes of action can you see?

Let’s take a closer look at the lawsuit, filed on behalf of DiDonato by one of Pennsylvania’s leading personal injury lawyers….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DiDonato v. Ung: The Temple Law Shooter Gets Hit — With a Civil Suit”

* Landmark case alert. This just in from SCOTUS: the separation of church and state even applies to employment discrimination lawsuits. Say hello to the “ministerial exception.” [New York Times]

* Paul Ceglia was fined for ignoring a discovery order. He also has to reimburse Facebook for all of its related, Biglaw legal fees. Here’s looking forward to Ceglia’s bankruptcy filing. [Bloomberg]

* “[D]emand for lawyers is declining,” but we definitely need another law school in Texas. A federal judge quit his job to become the dean of the ten millionth law school in the state. [National Law Journal]

* Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty to the murder of Stephany Flores yesterday, but we know what most Americans are thinking. WHERE’S THE JUSTICE FOR NATALEE HOLLOWAY?!!?!?!?!! [CNN]

* Proof that Casey Anthony isn’t mentally ill: she’s been thinking of kicking Jose Baez’s limelight-loving, camera-hogging ass to the curb. Time for Cheney Mason’s takeover. [New York Post]

* Lindsay Lohan is being sued for allegedly running over a paparazzo. But really, she should be sued for thinking she can play Elizabeth Taylor. Come on, that’s just not right. [Hollywood Reporter]

The picturesque Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena, home of the Ninth Circuit.

California has released some macro-level results from the July 2011 administration of the bar exam. The California bar is notoriously difficult, and every year we like to take a look at which schools prepared their students well for the exam, and which schools did not.

Last year, the overall pass rates were 68.3% for all takers and 75.2% for graduates of the twenty ABA-approved law schools in California. This year, overall pass rates clocked in at 67.7%, while students who went to ABA-accredited law schools in California passed at a 76.2% clip.

But you might be surprised at which California law school had the best passage rate on the California bar. Hint: it’s not Stanford, or Boalt Hall, or UCLA….

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